The 1% Are Different Than You and Me.
Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Rich Boy"Perhaps Scott was right. Or it just might be, as Mary Colum put it in response to Ernest Hemingway
I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.
Whether the rich are different because they are born that way, or simply because they have more money, one thing is for sure: the rich do not need to worry about having health insurance.
Which brings us directly to the subject of the Castlewood Country Club, a playground for the one percent nestled in the hills of Pleasanton, California, just a few Bart stops, a range of hills, and an economic light-year away from Oakland, California.
Castlewood maintains a tradition of friendship, graciousness, and attention to detail in the spirit of Phoebe Hearst's "Hacienda del Pozo de Verona."...The fine burghers who own Castlewood -- some eight-hundred of them who have paid what is said to be a $25,000 initiation fee and $600+ monthly fees -- enjoy the good life. Golf, tennis, fine dining, a fitness club.
Like sailing on a luxury cruise line, our members are recognized as valued and respected individuals.
One can easily imagine Sergei Brin (net worth: more than God) having a friendly chat with Mark Zuckerberg (net worth: a bazillion, plus interest) over cocktails, discussing "the next big thing" and which of the many startups they are funding will be the one to hit on it. (1)
Which is cool. Startups in Silicon Valley provide jobs; lots of jobs; jobs with health care benefits. So it is more than a bit ironic to think that the elite of the Bay Area, who would never think of going without health care themselves or providing health insurance for their high-tech employees, would enjoy their down time at a country club they own that is not willing to provide health insurance at an affordable price to the employees that serve them their wine and cook them their fine meals.
But it's true.
On Feb. 25, ((2010)) the member-owned club barred 61 food servers, cooks, bartenders and janitors, represented by Unite Here Local 2850, from coming to work at the 200-acre resort...
Castlewood spokesman Sam Singer said management acted after negotiations to renew a contract that had expired in September failed to resolve differences over health insurance...
Consider that the country club employer wants to force its hospitality workers to go from paying nothing to over $700 a month for health care coverage, when its membership dues are $600 a month (members who are much wealthier than the workers being shut out and thrown to the streets). That $739 a month is 35% of the average hourly wage of the workers at the country club (over 40% of post-tax, take home earnings). That means the worker is losing 40% of his or her paycheck. Try paying rent, a mortgage, food, car, car insurance, whatever else you pay for to live life, after having 40% of your paycheck taken from you by your employer.
Enter Occupy Oakland. (Stage left, of course).
What more could an Occupy wish for? A playground for the one percent, owned by the one percent, locking out their
servants workers because they can't "afford" to pay for their health insurance.
The locked out Castlewood workers -- who have now been without a job for two years -- approached the Occupy Oakland Labor Solidarity Committee a couple months ago about helping to organize an action in their support. Their cause, and the action, were supported unanimously by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly several weeks ago.
And so it will be that on Saturday, February 25th, Occupy Oakland will travel to Pleasanton and march with the Castlewood workers and their supporters from downtown Pleasanton to the Castlewood Country Club. There, it is rumored, they will be met by a delegation of the one percent, who will patiently explain why they cannot possibly afford to cough up another 0.1% (or less!) of their annual income to cover health insurance for their employees.
Perhaps in homage to this.
The Nitty Gritty
When: Saturday, February 25, 2012, 9:30 AMIf you believe that the 99% are being exploited by the 1%, if you believe that people deserve health care, this is your chance to demonstrate it (pun intended). And have some fun. Come and march with us.
Where: Downtown Pleasanton, corner of Bernal Avenue and Main Street
Rides: From Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th & Broadway, Oakland, at 8:00 AM
Shuttles: from Dublin/Pleasonton BART between 9 - 10 am
Occupy Oaklanders et al at the Occupy For Prisoners Rally at San Quentin, this last Monday
Whose side are you on?
The one percent?:
General Manager Jerry Olson told us that the Club is "philosophically opposed" to paying for family health benefits...Or the 99%?:
...Two years ago, they threw us out on the street because we wouldn't give up affordable health insurance for our families.-----
We're fighting for health care for our children.
We're fighting for work with dignity.
We're fighting for you.
(1) I have no idea whether Brin or Zuckeeberg are members of Castlewood. In fact it is unlikely. They are used here for illustrative purposes only, being famous Bay Area one-percenters. I have nothing against either of them, except that both of them are billionaires, and I am not. (heh)